February 9, 2021

Cheyney University Students Embark on New Biomedical Research Journey with The Wistar Institute

Cheyney University Students Embark on New Biomedical Research Journey with The Wistar Institute

Students begin first day at Wistar’s state-of-the-art facilities to gain hands-on experience through new biomedical science courses

As part of Cheyney University’s new STEM program in collaboration with The Wistar Institute, students returned to the spring semester eager to launch their new journey into biomedical research and to gain first-hand laboratory experience.

On February 4, eight Cheyney students began their first day at Wistar’s state-of-the art facilities in Philadelphia to learn the latest in innovative research and technologies. They are part of the new Wistar-Cheyney collaboration to train students in cutting-edge biomedical research techniques and business development.

“Our cutting-edge program with Wistar allows students to gain hands-on experience with the opportunity for internships that can progress into Wistar’s credentialed apprenticeship program,” said Cheyney University’s President Aaron A. Walton. “This is a forward-thinking strategic collaboration that will equip our students to become leaders with careers in life science research.”

The students start their new learning experience by entering Wistar’s Biomedical Research Methods course. The course covers biomedical research techniques with a special focus on cancer biology using curriculum based on Wistar research from Dr. Maureen Murphy’s lab. Dr. Murphy studies African-centric variants of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, which contribute to increased cancer risk but offer opportunities to improve treatment options. After completing this course, students will have opportunities to participate in summer research internships at Wistar.

“The launch of the Wistar – Cheyney collaborative program prepares students with a passion for science for meaningful careers in biomedical research,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Wistar President & CEO. “Students will intensively train—both in the classroom and in the lab—supported by top researchers, to become our next generation of young scientists. With the high demand for STEM talent in the region and beyond, this is a powerful journey and exciting trajectory for our students and a win-win for science.”

“In addition to exposing our students to complex molecular biology and cancer biology topics, the collaborative Wistar-Cheyney Biomedical Research Course is also allowing them to participate in innovative research,” said Nicole Santerre, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Natural and Applied Science. “We are trying to encourage more students of color to directly engage in novel research techniques. Our students are gaining laboratory skills that will give them an advantage that is applicable to their next step, beyond Cheyney. If that means a terminal degree program or a laboratory technician position, they will be beyond prepared.”

The innovative collaboration between Cheyney and Wistar unites the nation’s first historically Black college and university and the first independent biomedical research institute, with the goal of expanding life science research education, training, and business development opportunities in Pennsylvania. The joint program was officially announced July 2020.

The collaboration with The Wistar Institute is part of Cheyney’s ongoing efforts to establish corporate and institutional connections with industry leaders, providing students with more internship and career development opportunities and preparing them for future careers while earning their degrees at Cheyney.

“Our growing list of partnerships is directly benefitting our students and the building of a sustainable path forward for Cheyney to be a leading higher-education institution that prepares students for tomorrow’s jobs,” said President Walton.

In addition, as part of the alliance, Cheyney also became a new member of the Philadelphia Research Consortium, through which the university’s on-campus life science companies will be able to leverage the research and business communities coalesced around the consortium.




The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. Wistar’s Business Development team is dedicated to advancing Wistar Science and Technology Development through creative collaborations. wistar.org.


Founded in 1837, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is the nation’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education. Building on this legacy, the vision for Cheyney is to become the premier model for academic excellence, character development, and social responsibility among not only Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but in all of American higher education. The campus is located on 275 acres straddling Delaware and Chester Counties. Read more at cheyney.edu.